there she comes

somehow another week has passed since angie died. i cringe writing that. the words “angie” and “died” should not be seen sitting adjacent to one another, it’s unnatural. it is much too painful, i cannot look at them together and yet i stare at the words. i stare until they look more like blurry pixels, begging them to shift their shape into different words… a different name, a different reality. a world without her. today i had to revisit some pictures of her, as i am prepping them for an upcoming slideshow to present at her celebration of life party. why i thought i was strong enough to go through them (again, first time was just before her funeral) is beyond me… it was a million times harder this time around. at one point i threw the laptop in the general direction of amazing husband and begged him to do it, i couldn’t bear another second of seeing her face so full of life. it was so incredibly painful to see this face so full of love and light and positivity, because my sick and twisted mind insisted on triggering the glaringly disparate image of the last time i laid eyes on her.

you guys, i had to see her at the memorial. i HAD to see her again, i couldn’t pass on the chance to gaze upon her face one last time. i was terrified, but called to do so. i knew it wasn’t “her” lying in front of me, this person before me was a shell of what she once was. i “knew” she was already gone, but that was all i had left at the moment, this person that looked like my angie but definitely wasn’t. it was my last chance to do all the things we should do every day with our most loved ones but we let life get in the way… i had to hold her hand again. i studied her fingers, she always complained she had ugly hands. i loved her hands because they were working hands, always busy knitting, or gardening, sewing… they reflected her, they represented everything she loved doing. i had to stroke her long beautiful hair, it didn’t feel the same but in that moment it was all that i had. i soaked her in. i stared at her face, bargaining with her and God to have her suddenly wake up. i begged her to stop this insanity. i knew it was useless and i knew i was temporarily crazy but i couldn’t stop pleading for it to be a cruel joke. i HAD to see her again. i had to tell her i loved her, a million times over. i know she knew that, because i had said that to her over the phone 4 days before she died. but it had to be said again because i would never have the chance to stand before her and tell her. i laid my head on her chest and told her over and over and over again, my tears dropping into her shirt, carrying with them everything i needed to tell her. i’m never going to see her again, and it kills me.

the tears are unstoppable. they sink into the cracks of my keyboard like salt creeps into the cracks of my gaping wounded heart. why is it so hard now. maybe the reality is sinking in that she’s really gone… maybe i was in a state of shock the first time. maybe i just couldn’t allow my brain to accept the truth and i blocked out the pain? the pain, the sinking hole in my heart that only she can fill. i cannot count the holes in this heart. i am reminded of her constantly. i have seemingly held it together these last couple of days, saving my breakdowns for the middle of the night, when i’m finally getting to bed.. when no one can see me lose control. i don’t want to cause undue stress on my family, we are all suffering and the last thing i wish is to burden anyone with my pain. but i can’t turn off my head. i keep replaying the events. i am sick. i am sick with hurt. broken.

and somehow i put one foot in front of the other. it’s been three weeks and somehow i am still breathing. i am still here, not present by any definition of the word, but i am here. i am showing up. i showered, and ate and even left the house a few times. and today went back to work. not sure how i did that, or if i did anything that contributed to society but it happened. and as i ask myself how the hell do i have the strength to do anything, i can only credit everyone BUT me. i would not be breathing without my family and my friends. i have suffered a great deal of pain these last few years with infertility and pregnancy losses, but as i have said before, the pain of losing angie trumps everything. my support group, my friends and family, have literally held me up when i could not stand, now more than ever before.

i cannot thank you enough for your love.

i am so very grateful to all of you who have reached out with letters, emails, texts, hugs… words cannot describe how important your support has been to keeping me from drowning these last few weeks. i’d especially like to thank a group of women, most of whom i’ve never met in real life… my potatoes. a tribe of kind souls who have suffered similar journeys of miscarriage and pregnancy losses, who welcomed me into their family and offered unconditional love and support while i navigated the roads of infertility. they have faithfully continued to wrap their arms around me despite almost all of their journeys taking them over the rainbow, while mine has left me in the perpetual storm. we may be at very different places in life now, but our hearts are alike. i received these engraved plates in the mail today, and bawled my eyes out the moment i held them in my hand. so thoughtful and touching. i will proudly wear them to honor her memory. the picture on the right is one of my favorite series of pictures with angie, just a reflection of her fun-loving wacky personality. i miss her so much.

Pic Jointer

i know i posted this poem already but i feel called to let it jumble around in my head again… i’d so much like to think of her arriving to welcoming arms.

the ship

“what is dying-

i am standing on the sea shore,
a ship sails in the morning breeze and starts for the ocean.
she is an object of beauty and i stand watching her
till at last she fades on the horizon and someone at my side says:
“she is gone.” gone! where?
gone from my sight that is all.
she is just as large in the masts, hull and spars as she was when i saw her
and just as able to bear her load of living freight to its destination.
the diminished size and total loss of sight is in me,
not in her.

and just at the moment when someone at my side says,
“she is gone”,
there are others who are watching her coming, and other voices take up a glad shout:
“there she comes”
– and that is dying. a horizon and just the limit of our sight.
lift us up, oh Lord, that we may see further.”

-bishop charles henry brent

#rememberangie

a beautiful scar

it’s been 2 weeks since angie died. 14 days, 9 hours and some amount of minutes i will never be able to calculate exactly. two weeks already, but it feels like i just lost her yesterday. those days somehow blended into one unending nightmare. the stress of everything turned them into a tear-soaked blur, making any given moment indistinguishable from the next. all i could do was keep waking up, breathing, and going to bed. anything outside of those directives was to much to bear. one minute i was catatonic and then next laughing and then crying. grief is a strange beast, isn’t it? the memorial service came and went, tears fell, hands were shook, and i was swallowed up by countless hugs… drowned with “i’m sorry for your loss.” and so the days passed, and passed and passed. the sun rose and set and here i still sit, now that everything is “over”, everything is settling… i find myself facing the hardest part of all: learning how to live life without Angie in it.

my innate desire is to be selfish in this new way of living, to retreat, curl up and rock back and forth. i want to lay in my bed, arms enveloping my pillow, and sob. do not disturb me. no, i do not want to leave the house or eat…i don’t care about a shower… i don’t want to move. i am not ready to make half-hearted attempts to change my outlook, searching for silver linings that i am certain don’t exist. i want to lay here in my grief, i want to bathe in it… because it keeps my focus on her. i can see her when i close my eyes, i can feel her warmth, hear her laugh. let me lay here forever, she is here with me. i want more time with her. i want to feel her arms around me. i want her back, and if this is how i can do it, i will lay here forever. let me be selfish. allow me this.

i want to be selfish but i know i cannot carry on like this forever. my brain tells me i need to get on with it. with anything. “take a freaking shower already, it’s 4 o’clock.” i can argue with my brain, and i’ve been winning these last 2 weeks… but i cannot argue with my heart. my heart tells me Angie wouldn’t want to see me like this, and it’s right. it would hurt her to see me like this. she would be sitting next to me, rubbing my back, and gently coaxing me out of bed. she’d distract me from my sorrow by telling me some ridiculous story of her being clumsy again, her latest crazy show at Slim’s, anything to cheer me up. she would bring me something to eat, because that’s what she did, she took care of me. everyone, really. she’d open the blinds and let the sun in…  but i don’t want to open the blinds. i’m not ready, i am scared. i don’t want to burn up in that bright light.

the bright light is overwhelming… the world is moving on, moving on without her, without even blinking. people are going to work. the bills still need to be paid. baseball practice is in full swing. the dog is sick. enough. i want to scream at the world to stop for a minute and acknowledge that something is wrong, a piece of the puzzle is missing and why aren’t people alarmed… the world cannot ever be complete. nothing will make sense ever again. but it is useless to stop and scream, my screams would not amount to even a whisper. life is going on whether i like it or not.

i never imagined my world would look like this. i wasn’t prepared for this, people aren’t supposed to die young. you’re not supposed to bury your children. the brightest stars should be allowed to burn forever. i don’t know how to live in a world without her.

i want her here with me again, and although i will never see her in the flesh again, i can hold her with me in mine. i can take the weight of this pain and sorrow and express it physically, bearing the physical pain far easier than the emotional pain. and what is left behind is but a beautiful scar to remember her by.

i will carry you with me forever, my sweet angie.

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i love you so – a letter to my angela banana

your eyes.

angela-banana

that’s the first thing i see when i look at you. those enormous dark eyes, like a warm cup of black coffee… commanding me to stare, and refusing to be outdone by those colorful frames. your warm gaze is almost always followed by an equally warm smile. god, your smile. you are beautiful. in a heartbeat i feel your arms around me, and instantly i am at peace. you give the best hugs, i don’t think i told you that. because you never let go first, always holding on to let me know how much you love me. i love you so.

but let’s be honest, your eyes weren’t the first thing i noticed about you: i heard you coming a mile away. that voice, oh that voice. loud. damn it’s loud, isn’t it? one time you got SO mad at me for shushing you when we were having dinner at a restaurant. the couple at the table next to us couldn’t handle your “energy” and literally moved tables to distance themselves from you. in hindsight they must have been lunatics. what i wouldn’t give to go back and relish in that moment and tell you how absolutely perfect you are. that voice… booming, full of life, glorious. just like you. i love you so.

when you walk into a room everyone turns to look. and not because of the tattoos. or the nose/lip/tongue ring. not the ear plugs or hair color, or hair colorS. not the hair cut, nor the colorful makeup. it isn’t the hand-sewn/knitted/crocheted clothes on your back, nor the innovative (and sometimes hilarious) hand-made creation in hand (messenger bag, stye healer, you name it), it sure isn’t Sonny Boy (although he is adorable when he’s not biting someone)… not even your voice.

when you walk into a room everyone turns to look, because we have to. we are compelled to turn our collective head and see you, compelled to witness life flowing into the room. you literally exude life with each breath that leaves your body… joy, love, hope, kindness… they are exhaled from your mouth and we inexplicably find ourselves fighting to breathe them in.

you are love. when i’m with you i’m a better human. i can feel my heart swell, my spirit bubbling with happiness. you laugh… that booming laugh that you try (and fail) to hold back by covering your mouth. you laugh and the world is brighter. and you are beyond kind, somehow finding only the good in others and pulling it out of them. you give of yourself more than anyone i know and ask nothing in return. i love you so.

you are courageous. no, not courageous. FEARLESS. even as a little girl you didn’t give a shit about what the world thought of you. what i wouldn’t give to have a shred of your confidence. you walked to the beat of your own drum early on and we all stopped to marvel. if you could conceive it, you made it happen. bullfrog tightrope trainer. Olympic gutter swimmer. ballerina (the tallest, gangliest girl [picture a dancing giraffe in a tutu], but your smile was the biggest on that stage). student council/ASB leader. painter. map-maker (who makes a living doing that? angie, that’s who.) avid biker, until that hip mishap and then some. knitter, officially killing it in your knitting club. seamstress. cook. world-traveller. coat-checker then bartender and music-lover. Giants-fan extraordinaire, mom to Sonny Boy, (a prime example of you always found the best in all living things). i love you so.

and wife. it is here i have to tell you, you shine the most. you are an amazing wife to ryan. because you are angie, you are lovely, kind, gracious and hilarious. you are his sunrise, the hours in his day… his moon. his rock. you are love. and when love incarnate devotes its existence to another, there cannot be anything other than love abounding. i can still remember you first telling me about him, trying hard to be nonchalant about your feelings early on (for the record no one believed he was just your friend, btw). fate tried mischievously making you love each other asynchronously… but nonetheless love won out and together you were unstoppable. i am so grateful to you for bringing ryan into our lives, i never told you that. thank you for allowing him a peek into “the crazy cubans” and allowing us to witness your devotion to each other. he is forever stuck with us. i love you so.

to know you was to love you. i loved you so.

my mind and my heart are at war. i know you are no longer with me on this earth, but my heart refuses to believe it. i find myself picking up my phone to text you today, because well… i need to talk to you. i need to hear your voice. instead, i pore over old videos, playing them on repeat and repeat and repeat. i spend hours upon hours staring at pictures of you, carving the lines of your face into my memory, terrified i will forget what you look like at this moment. and the other hours in the day i wander aimlessly, alternating between hysteria and complete shock. i am overcome with grief, i am past drowning… i am sunk. i don’t want it to stop, bring on the water… because it brings me closer to you. it forces me to keep you in my mind, my heart, at all times of the day. let me sit with this grief for a while, let me soak you in now more than ever before.

my angela banana, angie, angela victoria, big bange (pronounced “BAN-juh”), angiepants… my amazing little sister… you are the best. i know people have the habit of posthumously boasting exaggerated positive traits of their loved ones, but anyone who knows you knows i speak the truth. you are the epitome of life, light, and love. your spirit is like none other ever created on this earth and the world is a darker place without you in it. to know you is to love you, and we are the lucky ones to have known you.

i love you now, i loved you so, and i will continue to love you until i can catch your gaze once again and tell you in person. until that day please hug my babies tight (i know you won’t let go first), and i promise to find you whenever i can. it shouldn’t be hard, i’ll just look for the brightest star in the night sky.